Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fielding a Dream

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fielding a Dream

Article excerpt

HACKENSACK - Junior Chris Navarro said he felt humbled when he stepped on the mound Monday to make the first start in the history of the Bergen Charter varsity baseball program.

Senior pitcher Henry Espinel looks around at his teammates, some of whom have never played organized baseball before, and feels honored that he's helping to lay a foundation for future success.

Cold and wet weather has kept the players inside their cramped, little Maple Street gym for most of the first six weeks of the Yellow Jackets' existence. They're still waiting for their first lead, let alone their first victory.

But three games into their inaugural season, it seems like these players already have learned at least one huge lesson: No one has to tell Bergen Charter (0-3) what it means to be a team.

"We're all in it together," said junior infielder/pitcher Israel Arroyo of Garfield. "We knew what we were signing up for when we joined a first-year program. It's going to be a long road, but we'll take it together."

That road is going to be bumpy, but it certainly won't be dull. Every game is shaping up to be a baseball lesson for these players, and so far, they are anxious to soak it all in.

"We're going to go through some things, and we are going to take our lumps," said first-year coach JJ Nesheiwat. "But we're moving forward. We're teaching baseball, and I believe we have something to build on.

"It's exciting. Once we hit a groove - and I believe we will hit our groove -- and fire on all cylinders, we'll look back on this and say, 'I was there when ...'"

Bergen Charter draws students from four towns: Hackensack, Passaic, Garfield and Lodi. There are 100 boys in the 240-student school, and 16 of them play baseball.

Nesheiwat said 13 of his players are straight-A students. Some read and write poetry in languages other than English, others are performers or serious science students.

The biggest problem is that they didn't grow up playing on the same youth teams, so there's a real getting-to-know-you feel to these early-season games. …

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